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Sharp Scores Twice in 3-2 Victory Over Isles

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia, PA – Patrick Sharp's second goal of the night broke a 2-2 third period tie as the Flyers won their eighth straight home game, 3-2 over the New York Islanders at the Wachovia Center.

Jeff Carter notched a goal and two assists while Antero Niittymaki made 38 saves as Philadelphia erased an early two-goal deficit to get its 10th win of the season.

The game-winning goal came at 2:36 of the third period. Kim Johnsson spotted Sharp from the corner in the faceoff circle, and Sharp released a quick wrist shot that found the far corner of the net past goaltender Rick DiPietro. It was his third goal of the season.

"Our line is supposed to go out there and create energy, but on a night when Peter [Forsberg] and Simon [Gagne] had a tough night, we were able to chip in," said Sharp.

"Sharp played a heck of a hockey game,' said Ken Hitchcock. "He's starting to really compete at a high level, and you can see it at practice now. He's starting to do the things that he had to do to be a good player in this league."

The Islanders came out of the gate strong and Niittymaki had to keep the Flyers in it early. He stopped Shawn Bates on a breakaway three and a half minutes into the contest, and then a slap shot by a wide-open Mark Parrish in the slot forced Niittymaki to make a difficult kick save.

New York kept the pressure on, however, and scored two goals in the opening period that Niittymaki could do nothing about. First, Miroslav Satan took a feed from Alexei Yashin through the crease on a five-on-three and Satan got just enough of the puck to bounce it over the Flyers' goaltender at 14:39.

Mike York's slap shot from the point on the continuing power play bounced off of Joni Pitkanen and in at 15:16 to make it 2-0 at the intermission. New York outshot the Flyers 20-5 over the first 20 minutes as Philadelphia relied heavily on Niittymaki.

"It was a lot of shots in the first period, but after one period like that it kind of felt good. They scored two goals, but they were kind of lucky bounces," said Niittymaki. "After the first period I thought we played pretty well."

"When it was 2-0, it could have been 5-0," said Hitchcock of Niittymaki's play. "I just think he's a heck of a goalie. We just need to find games for him, and we're going to, because we're going to have lots of back-to-backs."

Philadelphia responded in the second with two goals, both involving Carter. First, Carter won an offensive draw to Mike Rathje, who skated the puck towards the net. Rathje dropped it for Sharp, who ripped a one-timer past DiPietro at 3:35.

The goal seemed to energize the Flyers who seemed flat up to that point. They tied the game during a four-on-four at 16:53, when R.J. Umberger skated the puck across the blue line and around defenseman Brent Sopel. A diving DiPietro knocked the puck away from Umberger, but Carter was there to get his stick on it and shoot on net. The Isles' goaltender got his pad on that attempt, but the puck deflected off of New York's Alexei Zhitnik and past the goal line and Carter was credited with his fifth goal of the season.

The victory was the Flyers' second of the season over New York as they won 5-1 on October 15, also in Philadelphia. The teams meet again later this month at the Wachovia Center on November 26.

The Flyers conclude their five-game homestand on Saturday against the Florida Panthers at 7:00 p.m.

Pitkanen, Forsberg and Gagne all had their six-game point streaks come to an end.  Philadelphia's 10-game streak of scoring at least one power play goal ended. The Flyers were 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
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